Monday, March 31, 2014

Wardrobe Revamp: Navy Blazer

One of my main shopping goals this year is to be more conscious of my purchases. I want to invest in classic pieces that will last over time. You can read more about the vision for my wardrobe revamp here. One of my first purchases is a navy blazer. I realize that there is nothing groundbreaking about a blazer but this simple piece has been missing in my wardrobe. Now that I have one, I have worn it weekly!

Here are a few inspirations for future outfits.


What is one of your go to clothing items?


Friday, March 28, 2014

Five on Friday

Whew! Once again I am glad It's Friday. Strangely this is the full week of school we have had since February thanks to the cold and icy winter we have experienced in NC. Earlier this week I mentioned that Tuesdays were typically my long days at work. Well, yesterday made me eat my words with meetings before and after school I attended a total of 13 meetings yesterday. April 1st is a huge deadline for our department  and will be glad when this rush is over! Here is a quick look at the 5 things that I have been loving lately.

{One} Lotus & Lemon Peel Candle. I picked up this candle on my weekly trip to Target. I love having candles around for decoration and to make sure my apartment smells fresh. Living in an apartment there is not much space between the bedroom and the kitchen and I hate smelling the meal I'm cooking while in the bedroom. So our apartment is filled with candles galore. This fragrance reminds me of Anthroplogie and I love how their stores smell!
{Two} How I Met Your Mother. Since the series finale is right around the corner I have been re-watching the season from the beginning on Netflix. I have never been the type to re-watch TV shows or even movies.. That is why we have an almost non existent DVD collection. HIMYM has been an exception. I am sad to see the series end but excited to see how they wrap it all up on Monday night! 

{Three} We sold our first home! We put our house on the market less than 6 months ago. We had several offers including one that fell through. Being sellers was not the best experience for us so I am thankful it is over. It is bittersweet to be leaving so many memories behind but we are thankful not to have a mortgage and extra bills hanging over our head. 

{Four} Work Appreciation. When we up and moved to Cary I took a job as a school psychologist in a new county that I knew little about. I had no idea what type of role I would be in or how the schools I would receive me. After a crazy week like this, I need a little reminder how great it is. I am so thankful to be working in a forward thinking county that values research and embrases Response to Intervention (RtI). Also, both schools have great PTA support that sponsored breakfasts and lunches this week. Also there was a free massage clinic on Wednesday! 

{Five} Coffee Friday! Fridays have officially become Starbucks Coffee day. I am  a bit too excited about my skinny vanilla latte on my way to work this morning. What's your go to coffee drink?


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

What I Ate Wednesday

Happy hump day loves! Tuesdays are turning into my long day at work. So, I am happy to see it go and ecstatic to know it is all downhill from here! Today I'm sharing what my meals and snacks look like for me right now. I am in extreme clean eating mode since my marathon is 3 weeks away and spring break is 4 weeks away. That means staying very hydrated and fueling with lots of protein with a good balance of carbs. I try to drink half my body weight in water daily.  My goal for protein is try to get one ounce of protein per pound of body weight. Onto my eats for the day!

{Breakfast} Chocolate Banana Smoothie- This reminds me of Planet Smoothie's Chocolate Chimp smoothie. It was my favorite in high school and drinking this always reminds me of picking up extra large smoothies before basketball games. For this smoothie, I blended 1/2 frozen banana, chocolate skim milk, 2 scoops of natural protein powder and a handful of ice.  Despite the cold weather, I have been craving smoothies almost daily.

{Snack} Fruit & Protein Bar- I recently discovered Lara's ALT bar which has 10g of protein. I love that they use all natural ingredients that I can read. The only flavor I have tried so far is Chocolate Chip Macaroon. I think it has more of an almond joy flavor then a macaroon. I don't mind though because it is still delicious!

{Lunch} Roasted Chicken & Sweet Potato with Grapefruit- Simple and straight forward. I try and prep my lunch for the week Sunday or Monday night. It makes it so much easier in the morning to grab my lunch and not have to work about preparing meals each morning.

{Dinner} Lemon Pepper Tilapia w/ Roasted Vegetables- Another simple go to meal of mine. I love roasted asparagus especially with a squeeze of lemon. I also have been making a lot of homemade roasted potatoes and fries. Since my running mileage has been really high I am craving the extra carbs at night.

{Dessert} Dark Chocolate- While I was shopping the other day, this bar just happened to jump in my cart. It is all organic and 70% cocoa. Chocolate in the house is not a daily occurrence because I have limited will power. But if I am going to indulge I try and pick fresh or organic treats.

What are some of your go-to snacks? As you can see, I am on a fresh fruit and protein bar kick lately.


Monday, March 24, 2014

Marathon Monday: Inside thoughts on a long run

This past weekend I completed my last long run before the marathon. I ran the 20 miles with my training group from Fleet Feet. I love running long runs with the group. Marathon training is hard and sometimes more of a mental than a physical battle.When it gets tough it is nice to have someone there to  help you push through. This week the course was split up into 3 parts a 8 mile loop, a 4 mile loop and a 8 mile loop. Including bathroom breaks and refueling the run was around 4 hours. I ran for the length of 2 movies or 4 Game of Thrones episodes or even the time it takes to drive to Wilmington and back. That is a long time!!

This last long run really helped me feel ready for the marathon. I know that my body is capable of running 26.2 miles. I know that for me the fight on race day is going to be a mental battle. To show you exactly what I mean here is a little snapshot of  my thoughts during long runs. I don't speak for all runners with these thoughts. I know for many it is true joy every step on the way. For me that is just not the case. I love running. There are always bad daysat the start but by the end I am always glad I ran.

Miles 1-4: Getting in the groove.  Man my legs are tight, I should have stretched last night. Is there something in my shoes? My laces don't feel tied right. I would be completely okay with cutting this run short. Catch up with everyone in my group about their week to distract myself.

Miles 4-12: Feeling great. Mile 4 already? I'm feeling amazing I wish I could run all day! Look at the beautiful sunrise. I am so happy I chose to run today! Enjoy the beautiful houses downtown.

Mile 13: Half marathon status. Alright, I just ran a half marathon.. only 7 more miles to go. Oh but on race day it will be another 13 more miles. Ugh. Just focus on these 7 miles one mile at a time. Maybe some fuel will help- enjoy 1/2 a pack of margarita shot blocks to distract myself. Man those are delicious I would love a margarita after this. Chat with the group about fueling tips and race experiences. Thankful that at least I'm not alone.

Miles 14-16: Grumpy pants. Why does everything hurt? I can feel my blister getting bigger with every step. Lets focus on relaxing one body part at a time starting at my head. Do this several times until I get distracted by pedestrians, traffic and construction. Feign happiness and wave to the track team running by campus and several individuals doing the walk of shame. Fake it to you make it right? Quietly recall college days because I am too embarrassed to share it with the group. Now onto the traffic, what in the world is up with all the loud cars? I feel like I get startled every few minutes my a  loud engine. Someone yells loudly at the truck and makes me feel better. Dear drivers please watch out! I really don't want to stop this crosswalk please be nice and see us. Every time we stop it hurts exponentially more to start again. The heat of the day has started and I start to get nauseous every time we stop. Convince the group to seek shade under the trees and it helps a bit.

Mile 17: Unstoppable. 3 more miles to go, I can do this. Announce loudly less than a 5k to go! A lot of the pain has started to subside. I am going to be able to finish this!

Mile 18-19: Time slows down. I think my GPS may be broken because these are the slowest miles of my life. Am I even moving forward?  Really I should be at 19 miles by now. These hills are horrible. Why are there so many hills? Just don't look at the watch again and follow the person in front of you. I glance at my watch 30 seconds later... oh man this sucks. Start singing "Happy" in my head to distract myself.

Mile 20: Finish Strong. One more mile, one more mile. Pick up the pace a bit. It feels quicker to me but know it is really just a faster jog.  Thank goodness I did not stop at mile 4 because now I feel great. I remember again that this is why I run. The huge feeling of accomplishment knowing you can achieve whatever you put your mind to.


Monday, March 17, 2014

Race Recap: Tobacco Road Half Marathon


      Thanks for all your well wishes for my half marathon Sunday. The rain held off in the morning and it was a brisk 50 degrees for the race which made for great running weather. I crossed the finish line at 2:11. Having a race built within my marathon training was actually harder for me than I thought. The competitive part of me  wanted to push myself hard and go for a personal best (sub 2:10). However, I knew that this week is the last build week for marathon training and I needed to save my legs because there would not be much time to recover.  I averaged a pace of 10:01 which is significantly faster than my long runs this training season which have been around 10:45- 11 pace. I feel like I ran my best without straining my legs too much.  Even knowing that I am still a little mad that did not shave off 2 more minutes to get it under 2:10.
At the Race Start
      Yesterday's race taught me several lessons. First lesson, the timing of your pre-race fuel is important. For training runs, I normally have a banana with peanut butter less than an hour before our run. At the race runners were dropped off at 5:30 am for a 7 am start time. I ate my snack in the car almost 2 hours before start time. By around mile 7, I could tell my stomach did not have enough in it and my body was getting tired. My Gu gels helped take the edge off and an extra cup of Gatorade for carbs helped me finish strong. By the time I made it home I was starving and Joe could even hear my stomach rumbling. That is never a good sign.       Second lesson,  wear a gps watch they are much more reliable than Iphone gps. I have been really slack about charging and wearing my Garmin lately. Several people I run with have watches and I just rely on them to set the pace. I used the Nike Plus app on my phone to help pace me this race since I forgot my watch. According to my phone, I was running a 9:30 minute/mile for the first few miles. I knew I was running slightly faster than my normal pace but it did not feel like a 9:30 pace. My suspicions were confirmed when we passed the 4 mile marker and my phone displayed we were at 4.5 miles. The mile calculations were way off. I spent the rest of the race just ignoring the pace and focusing on the time since I knew that would be a good gauge of how much farther I had to go.
      All together the race was a great experience. The course was extremely flat compared to training runs in downtown Raleigh which was so nice. The race is a local non-profit race that has amazing community support. It was around 40 degrees at race start with a high chance of rain. They set up a heated tent last minute for runners to wait in for the race to start. There were an abundance of port-a-potties which  is extremely important. No really. I am sure most of you know long distance running can create weird restroom habits. It was fun to see many runners and spectators dressed up for St. Patrick's day. The course was on a trail which made for beautiful scenery but had few spots for spectators. They planned it out really nicely with aid stations each place the trail widened so to not create too much congestion. Also, the trail was gravel which is so much better for your feet and joints. I look forward to running this race again next year and crushing my current record!


Friday, March 14, 2014

Five on Friday

One. I'm running a half-marathon Sunday! The Tobacco Road Half Marathon fit seamlessly into my marathon training. The forecast is absolutely terrible right now for Sunday so I'm praying the rain stays away for a few hours during the race. The course is on a old railroad track so it is extremely flat compared to the roads in Raleigh.  Also, this race marks one month out from my marathon! I am so excited to run my first race of 2014.  

Two. I have been re-discovering my favorite tunes and finding several new ones thanks to Spotify. Spotify is a free streaming service that lets you follow other's playlists as well as build your own playlists. I love that you can view all the songs on the playlist before you add it to your list.  I have been jamming out to a lot of John Mayer lately which takes me back to high school.

Three. I am trying to cut back on sweets and clean up my diet. In hopes to replace my nightly M & M fix I picked up these chocolate yogurt covered cherries at Target. The tart cherry center is a great contract to the chocolate coating. I portioned them out so I could enjoy one serving at a time.

Four. Spring break is less than 40 days away and I just booked a cruise to celebrate the break! I'm going on a mother-daughter cruise with my mom to Key West & Cozumel. I'm dreaming of warm weather and tropical drinks. This also means it's less than 40 days until I'm back in a bikini so it's crunch time!

Five. The consequences of the horrible weather in central NC is makeup days. Students were forgiven the days since there was a state of emergency. Staff luckily gets to make up the days through workdays.... on Saturdays. This coming Saturday is my first make-up workday. Thanks to a huge deadline looming at the end of the month I have more than enough work to do. Still pretty bummed about having to work on a Saturday and will be bribing myself with coffee.

Hope you all have an amazing Friday!
What are you looking forward to this weekend?


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Throwback Thursday: My Running Story

One month from today I'm running my first marathon!  Here is a look back into how I started running. I started running my Senior year of college as part of my final project for a health class. I was not an athlete in high school. I danced for years but stopped once I moved to college. The health class senior year was one of my elective classes and really sparked my interest in health and fitness.  For on final project, we had to do research on any health topic covered in our class. I had already lost a few pounds from watching my diet and thought focusing on running would be a fun way to sneak in cardio while completing my assignment. Prior to this class, my two favorite forms of running were doing the elliptical for 30 minutes with no resistance and walking. For my project, I walked on the treadmill and gradually incorporated running. After each session, I  measured my heart rate. The goal was to use intervals to increase my cardiovascular endurance which was measured by my heart rate. Pretty nerdy stuff. By the end of the semester I was running around 3 miles and loving how it made me feel.

Freshman year- Exercising consisted of waking the loop at Wrightsville Beach

That spring I entered my first 5k. I did not shatter any records but since it was such a small race I ended up placing 3rd in my age group (out of 4 people). I remember being so nervous for race day. Making sure I had just the right outfit and my favorite tunes on my ipod.  

My first 5k

After that I stated reading several running blogs including Meals and Miles, Healthy Tipping Point & Skinny Runner. As I read I became intrigued by long distance running. I remember reading about their training plans and wondering if it was something I could do. Honestly, one of the biggest things that peaked my interest was the post long run meals or treats. I remember thinking that I could run 13 miles if there was candy and lots of carbs involved. That's when I decided to train for my first half-marathon.

Battleship Half Marathon

 I was hooked. I not only loved the experience of the race but the endless training miles that led up to the race. I have taken several breaks from running over the years due to injury, time commitment and weather. However, I always seem to go back to it. I am not a competitive person but love the feeling of accomplishment when you cross the finish line.

Jingle Bell 5k 

Ramblin' Rose Half Marathon

Flashback 10K

I am not a natural born runner. Long distance running has been a huge mental battle for me. I can conquer 3- 5 miles no problem after that my mind starts to wander and things get uncomfortable. Feeling uncomfortable is not something I enjoy most days. But to get better and change you have to get uncomfortable. Honestly, marathon training is very uncomfortable for me. I downplay it a lot because I still can't believe next month I will be running 26.2 miles. I know I have the physical ability to complete the race it's my mental strength that I question. Training is a lot of pounding the pavement with just your thoughts and music. It takes about 3 miles for me to get in the groove and feel comfortable. On some runs I feel like I could conquer the world. Other runs I just count down the miles until it is over. I despise running fast and it is something I want to work on for future races. Right now I am focused on getting in my miles for the marathon and taking it one run at a time.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Recipe: Mini Easter Egg Brownies

These simple brownies are great for upcoming holiday celebrations. Also, the 5 ingredient list makes it easy to whip up when you may have a sweet craving or want an indulgent treat. I love using cake mix in unexpected ways to simplify the baking process. They would also be good with an array of different mix ins as well. 

Mini Egg Easter Brownies 
Makes 16 brownies

 1 box chocolate cake mix
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup milk
1 egg
10 oz bag of Cadbury Mini Eggs, crushed

How to Make 
Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 9x9 pan with baking spray, set aside. In bowl mix cake mix, vegetable oil, egg and milk with a spoon until combined. Stir in most of crushed mini eggs. Spread batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle top of brownies with remaining mini eggs for extra color. Bake for 20-25 minutes. These brownies will puff up a lot thanks to the cake mix. Make sure the center is cooked completely before removing from the oven. Allow to cool completely before cutting into squares. 


Friday, March 7, 2014

Five on Friday

It's Friday, let's get to it! Here is my five favorite things from this week.

One. Tomorrow I am headed to Charlotte for a  friend's bachelorette party. I am greatly looking forward to  a huge girls night. I love going out in big cities and do not do it often enough! I am already craving Vida's skinny margarita and handmade guacamole.

Two. I have been slacking majorly with my devotions this year. Thanks to the prompting of Lent, I have found a new devotional that I love. She Reads Truth is an online community that frequently posts devotional plans online. They are on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to share inspiration daily. Honestly, being reminded through my Instagram feed about each scripture featured daily has been a great reminder.  The first part of the devotional focuses on fasting. You can read along with me here.

Three. I've been reading  Get Skinny Again by Sarah Dussault. Her book focuses on effective exercises that all include photos and are organized by a variety of goals. She also shares tips on nutrition, balance and recipes. I love that it has a ton of pictures and it is a very informative while being understandable.

Four. My new favorite find from Trader Joe's is their Curried Chicken Salad. I picked it up on a whim last weekend while browsing their salads and wraps for Joe. I am not a fan of chicken salad at all because of the large amount of mayo that is usually added. Surprising myself, I gave it a try and loved it! It has just the right amount of curry and a lot of chicken. I found a simple recipe  and I'm hoping to re-create it at home soon.

Five. I'd love for you all to celebrate this little growing blog with me. Check out the celebratory giveaway here. I'm sharing some of my favorite little things.


Thursday, March 6, 2014

Which Suit?

I have been scouring the internet lately to find a new swimsuit. I have purchased a new suit from Target & Victoria's Secret each summer for years. This past summer I did not buy anything new and decided to wear what I had purchased previous seasons. What I noticed is that the fabric did not hold up well & I was uncomfortable in many of them. I am looking for a swimsuit that can withstand trends and hold up for several seasons. I am currently torn  between two different swimsuits. Please help me decide!

Suit Up

Suit Up by sweetcarolinabelle 

Can you tell I have been watching a lot of How I Met Your Mother lately? It has been my choice of entertainment on long treadmill runs. Please cast your vote in the comments for your favorite suit. Or share a favorite of yours!


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

100 Posts Celebration

Last week this little space of mine celebrated a big milestone, 100 posts! In the small time I have been in the blogging word I have found some great friends and hope to continue to grow this little space of mine. Even with 100 posts under my belt, I am still exploring the exact direction I want this blog to go in. Right now, I am truly enjoying sharing my fitness journey and training. I also love sharing my thoughts on fashion and developing my style.  For now, this space is going to be a collaboration of both. I want this to be a honest refection and documentation of my journey. Expect  a bit more honesty in the weeks to come. Especially when it comes to my fitness journey. I hope my increased honesty will inspire and encourage. Please continue to follow along with me in my journey! 

In order to thank y'all for following along with this little blog I thought a giveaway would be fun. The giveaway features some of favorite little indulgences. First, Fresh Sugar lip balm is a new found favorite of mine. My lips have been extra dry this winter thanks to windy and cold long runs. I love the pigmentation it gives and silky smooth feel afterwards. Lily & Laura Bracelets are handmade glass bead bracelets crafted by women in Nepal. Each bracelet is unique. They come in a wide range of colors and patterns. I stated collecting these bracelets last spring and have been growing my collection since. A blog giveaway is almost not complete without Essie nail polish. This is one of my favorite items to browse at Target. I love their colors and the long lasting wear. I pick up a new color at least one time a month. I only wear polish on my toes normally. So I am frequently changing my polish to enjoy my huge collection of colors! To be entered to win, just complete the form below! A winner will be chosen next Wednesday March 12th. 


Monday, March 3, 2014

March Favorite Things

There are lots of exciting things happening at Sweet Carolina Belle this week. Keep a lookout for a giveaway celebrating over a 100 posts later this week. I will also be sharing long run motivation tips and thoughts.  a Today I sharing my favorite things for March with you for as part of a link up with Emily at Beauty and the Greek. 

One. Hunter Rain Boots. I don't know why I have been on the fence with buying a pair of rain boots for year. These boots have been put to use several times in less than a month. I love the sturdiness of the boots so it is easy to tuck your pants into the tall legs. I also love the grey color because it goes with everything!

Two. Yelp. I use the Yelp app all the time from looking up new restaurants to finding a new vet. People will also post pictures of the location and food. This is nice to have real life photos to compare to versus the produced photos on restaurant webpages.  I love to use it when traveling to get ideas of new restaurants as well.

Three. Hope in a Jar Foundation.  As y'all know by now I love Philosophy products. This foundation is no different. I jumped at the chance to try a free sample at Sephora and am in love. The foundation blends well & is lightweight while still having good pigmentation.

Four. Crystal Light pink lemonade. I love water flavors to spice up my 65oz of water I drink a day. I have cut out most of my soda and adult beverages due to marathon training. This flavor is so delicious and makes me forget about my sugary cravings.

Five. Loft skinny ponte pants.  I recently re-discovered ponte fabric and it has been my favorite for pants this winter. These skinny pants are super comfy  that it is almost like wearing pj bottoms. I am typically a skirt and dress girl so these pants are a huge win in my book.

Six. Cadbury Mini Eggs. I am a huge sucker for holiday themed candy. These little eggs are my favorite candy of the season. They are making a limited appearance in our house for baking and occasional snacking since I can't control myself around these delicious goodies.

Happy March y'all!
What are some of your favorite things this month?


Sunday, March 2, 2014

Fitness: March 2- 8

Oh happy day! Today was a beautiful day here in NC. We were able to take Charlie on a long walk on the Tobacco Trail and enjoy lunch outside on the patio. I tried Five Guys Grill for the first time today and it was delicious. I am not a huge burger girl but I do love fries. We split a small of their Cajun fries which could have been a large. Their servings were huge!

I am now baking a batch of Cadbury mini egg brownies (recipe soon) and watching the Oscar pre-show. The Oscars my favorite award show all year. let's hope I can stay up until the end!

For meals this week we are keeping it simple with some old recipes. So, I wont bore y'all with that. I did pick up a few new items from Trader Joes that I can't wait to try and share next week!

Running, Running. This week is another build week for my marathon training. After this week, only one more build week between me and the marathon finish line!! I am so happy that this training season has been injury free so far. Crossing my fingers that with lots of stretching and cross training I can keep it that way. In preparation for my marathon, I have signed up for the Tobacco Road Half Marathon on March 16th. A few friends from Fleet Feet will be running it with me and I am looking forward to it.

This week Sarah from Sarah Fit shared a few tips on how to train for a marathon. If your interested check it out below!

I completely agree with the emphasis on the time it takes to train for a marathon. Your Friday nights are typically spent in resting and preparing and a huge chunk of your Saturday is spent out on the run. This does not account for the naps and ice baths that come along with the training!

Sunday: Rest Day
Monday: 5 miles & Body Combat
Tuesday: Strength & group run
Wednesday: HIIT & cross training cardio
Thursday: 7 miles & strength
Friday: HIIT & Body Combat
Saturday: 18 miles